Senior Ja’Mari Ward, the top high school athlete in the nation in the long jump and triple jump, has been grounded.
Cahokia coach Leroy Millsap said on Tuesday that Ward, who suffered a dislocated left kneecap at the Collinsville Invitational 10 days ago, will not compete in either the triple jump or long jump at the Class 2A Carterville Sectional on Friday.
“I basically sat down with him and told him that we weren’t going to risk his athletic future for one track meet. Ja’Mari is a great young man and we want him to be able to go on and have great career at the next level (college). No track meet is worth a young man’s future,” Millsap said. “He’s disappointed because he’s competitor and he wants to help his team. But Ja’Mari also understands that for his future this is best.”
Millsap added that he may let Ward run in the 100 or 200 meters or possibly a relay. That decision will come later in the week.
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Ward, who set the National Federation of State High School Association’s National Record of 53 feet, 7 1/2 inches in the triple jump in late April at the St. Clair County Meet, suffered the injury on his first attempt in the triple jump at the Collinsville track meet.
After being carried off the track, the kneecap was popped back into place. Ward later had X-rays and an MRI was performed with no structural damage found.
A University of Missouri recruit, Ward is a two-time state champion in the long and triple jump. He owns the state long jump record of 25 feet, 6 3/4 inches.
Cahokia begins its quest for a sixth straight Class 2A state title on Friday at the Carterville Sectional.